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Old 09-13-2010, 06:02 AM   #10
Jesse Joe
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Canada
Posts: 6,863
Default Re: The Battle Of Britain

Battle of Britain 'never forgotten'

Published Monday September 13th, 2010

Outcome of war hinged on the first significant air battle in history

By James Foster
Times & Transcript Staff

Seventy years is a long time to remember, but military veterans and serving members of all branches of Canada's armed forces vow the Battle of Britain will never be forgotten.


Dieppe Military Veteran's Association Battle of Britain ceremony took place yesterday afternoon at the J. Laurie Cormier P.O.W. Park. Here, Romeo Bourgeois lays a wreath in memory of the historic event.


Pilot Mike Woodfield does one of his passes in a F86 Hawk One by Vintage Aircraft.

The first significant battle in history to be fought entirely in the skies literally turned the tide of the Second World War, holding off a Nazi invasion of Great Britain despite the pilots being undermanned, undergunned and having about one-quarter the number of aircraft of the invading Luftwaffe.

The 70th anniversary of the battle was marked in both Moncton and Dieppe yesterday, with the crowd at the latter city swelled by a triple flypast by a classic F86 Sabre fighter jet, clad in the striking golden livery of the famed Golden Hawks military aerobatics team, the forerunners to today's world-renown Snowbirds.

Much pomp but also sombre reflection dominated both cities' ceremonies, which served as a good history lesson for those too young to appreciate how, between July and September of 1940, the fate of the free world hung on the abilities of allied pilots, short in numbers and even shorter on training, many of whom earned their wings at what is now the Greater Moncton International Airport and the Moncton Flight College, which was a significant training grounds for new wartime pilots.

The Dieppe ceremony was held right across the street from the airport and college, at the J.-Laurie-Cormier POW Park on Champlain Street, among the very homes that were built to house the trainees and their instructors in the Lakeburn section of the city.

"It's something very special to commemorate this date in this space," Mayor Jean LeBlanc noted.

Dieppe Military Veterans' Association president Nils Liljemark recalled how Hitler had planned to invade Great Britain on his march eastward across Europe and had amassed an air fleet unmatched in the world, whose mission it was to soften British resistance to the coming onslaught by 160,000 German ground troops.

Somehow, the British air warriors, their numbers boosted by about 100 Canadians, repelled the supposedly far superior and certainly far more numerous Luftwaffe.

"At the end of the day," master of ceremonies of the Moncton commemoration MWO (Ret.) Peter Hamm said at the Victoria Park cenotaph, "Hitler realized that an invasion of Britain was impossible.

"This great victory must never be forgotten."
As if on cue, the first F86 flypast occurred just as the strains of O Canada filled the chill Sunday afternoon air, compelling the crowd to crane their necks as dozens of cameras pointed at the sky because for many, yesterday will prove to be the last time they'll ever see the 1960s-vintage jet in full flight and many in the crowd realized that.

The first flypast was in honour of Al Lilly, the legendary Moncton aviator who died in 2008 who was the first Canadian to break the sound barrier by putting his Canadair-built CF-86 Sabre into a dive over Montreal. In his honour, this particular Sabre is named after Lilly.

The second overflight was in honour of the late Don McClure, like Lilly a member of the Canadian Aviation Hall of Fame and who was actually one of Lilly's students, who played a key role in the development of Lakeburn as a pilot-training centre and was one of the founding fathers of the now world-renown Moncton Flight College, which trains pilots from around the globe.

The jet's third pass was to honour Mike Doiron, who recently retired as principal and CEO of the college and who was McClure's successor at the ever-growing flight school.

While the audience fully expected the jet to make three passes, they were delighted at witnessing a fourth fly-by which occurred when pilot Mike Woodfield came in for a landing to refuel, sending shutterbugs scrambling across Champlain Street to get close-up photos.

Many of those admiring the parked jet were astounded when Woodfield walked over to personally greet the crowd, spending considerable time talking to aero buffs and answering every one of the avalanche of questions they tossed his way.

This particular Sabre never flew as an actual Golden Hawk but was used at RCAF Station Trenton, in Ontario, for team tryouts in 1962 and 1963.
It was retired from service at the former CFB Chatham, in Miramichi, in 1968.

The jet was purchased by Vintage Wings of Canada from a private collector in 2007. Known as Hawk One, it was restored and repainted in the colours of the Golden Hawks in partnership with the Air Force as part of the Canadian Centennial of Flight celebrations.
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